173. Walker

I’m a walker, not a runner.

I’ve never had much luck or skill with running. The physical stamina required for running that is present in my body is roughly equivalent to the nutritious content of a bag of chips.

(American chips, of course; not British chips)

In my secondary school years, when my legs were trained and toned for walking, I walked some serious distances. I lived a 15-minute drive from where I studied, which equaled to about 1 hour of walking, I later found out. My mom taught morning classes at her school, and she would usually stay back after school for admin duties, leaving me to wait up to 2, sometimes 3 hours before she would come by my school to drive me home.

When I was 16, I reasoned that I could get home faster if I just walked. So I did.

People are continually amazed, to this day, that I walked an hour under the unforgiving sun every afternoon in the humid Malaysian air. “How?” they ask; and I reply, full of eloquence: “Like that.”

It was a great thing, walking home from school, and I continued doing it until I finished secondary school at the end of the year I turned 17. Until the end, it wasn’t that I wanted the exercise, or that I needed to stretch my legs – I just wanted to go home, and it did the job.

Not to say that it did not come with fringe benefits.

Every other introvert can empathize when I say that just physically being in school is one of the most tiring ordeals one can go through. Well, perhaps extroverts too, depending on which school you attended. Walking for that one hour after school, despite the physical discomfort from the heat and the straining of muscles in my legs, was refreshing for my mind. When you’re walking somewhere, people don’t bother you, and you have time to think. Reflect. Ponder.

I also picked up the habit of singing as I walked, something that persisted to the present day. When you’re walking, drenched in your own sweat and half-delirious from fatigue, you care very little about what others have to say about your singing voice. Besides, you’ll soon be past them, and they won’t matter after those few seconds. To this day, I have no apprehension towards the thought of singing in front of others.

I was great as a walker. Not so much as a runner.

As much as I was able to walk impressive distances under (relatively) intolerable conditions, I was terrible at running. I literally could not sprint 100 meters. I’ll do great for the first 20 meters or so, and when my resistance towards the burning in my lungs starts to waver, I’ll look up and see that I’m only about halfway through the sprint – and I’ll just give up and give a half-jog for the remaining distance.

That said, I’m not great as a jogger either. The time my school decided that it was a good idea to put us all on a 5-kilometer jogging trail, I nearly passed out. My attempts at making jogging an exercise routine have consistently failed, and there’s always one thing that I resort to when my head swims, my eyes see black spots before them, and my lung is heating up faster than I can breathe to cool it down.

I walk.

That’s all I can manage. And that’s good enough, for now.

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